Wordle: A Success Story

What’s a 5-letter word for “meteoric social engagement?”

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you aren’t living under a rock. Chances are, then, you’ve probably heard of Wordle – the game with the grey, yellow and green squares that’s taking over the internet. Confused by its seemingly overnight world domination? Hannah, our Insight Manager, is here to enlighten you.

 “Wordle is a daily word game where the user has 6 chances to guess a five-letter word, with the only clues being whether you’ve guessed a character or position correctly.”

Sounds simple enough, right? That’s because it is.

It seemed to come from nowhere, and now it’s everywhere. But nothing ever truly just appears on social – and the numbers are impressive to say the least. Wordle has grown from a game made for the creator’s family to two-million daily users in the space of just three months. The Google Trends chart below shows it’s meteoric rise, with almost no searches before January. Search it on Twitter now, however, and there are multiple results being shared every single second (if you’ve muted “Wordle,” we don’t blame you. It’s an act of self-care).

The most impressive thing for me, and the reason I think it’s been so effective, is Wordle’s simplicity. It’s an incredibly intuitive game, with a few basic rules and built-in share-to-social. As the daily word is the same for everyone, there’s a sense of connection as everyone tries to get to the same word – whether they start with “AUDIO” or “FARTS.” 

Despite its simplicity, the social connection is powerful. From North America to Australasia, and many places in between, people the world over are getting their Wordle on.

What’s also worth noting is that Wordle isn’t a smartphone app or some ad-riddled cash cow. It’s a completely free-to-play game, situated on a web browser, with no ads and no signup required. It’s the internet equivalent of playing Hangman at school, but with everyone across the planet. It feels somewhat primal – the urge to maintain your daily streak and get to today’s word in fewer steps than everyone else on your Twitter timeline. 

That’s a feeling that doesn’t come along very often in this day and age and for that reason, whether you’re already sick of seeing it or you’ve been posting your little green squares on the daily for two or three weeks now, Wordle really is a rare gem.

Since we penned this article, Josh Wardle, the creator of Wordle, has announced he’s sold the game to the New York Times, with NYT confirming a “low” 7-figure sum. Apparently this will initially remain free to play, with Wardle working to ensure players’ streaks won’t disappear after the move. This has been a little divisive among players, with some delighted at this recognition and others concerned about the monetisation of a free game they love – but I suppose a few million dollars is a pretty decent ROI for a game made for your partner.

If you’d like to chat about all things data – or compare Wordle scores – drop us a line on hello@puzzlelondon.com

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